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Automotive components in composite materials now closer to reality

19 July 2022
Producing multi-material components for automobiles has well-known advantages – they are stronger, lighter and have a reduced environmental footprint – but slow production rates and difficult scalability have prevented their adoption. It was to improve this context that the Lay2Form project was created and that, during the last 5 years, INEGI has worked.

The Institute's team of experts has developed laboratory-scale composite materials processing methodologies and 3D hybrid production processes for metal and composite structures. Developments that, according to Rui Gomes, responsible for the project at INEGI, "translate into mechanical properties and production rates applicable to the automotive sector, and therefore represent another step forward towards the adoption of these materials in the industry".

Also noteworthy is the project, design and structural simulation of a demonstrator component, the performance at the level of layer deposition and hot forming processes. Also in the hands of the Institute was the assessment of the life cycle and economic viability of the solutions.

Multimaterial components are lighter and have better properties

The project started in 2017, with the objective, now fulfilled, of creating an advanced and highly integrated manufacturing process for the conformation of hybrid materials, suitable for highly dynamic and competitive industrial contexts, such as the automotive sector.

As Rui Gomes explains, "the hybrid metal-composite materials, deposited in layers, allow a significant weight reduction and, consequently, lower CO2 emissions, in addition to better mechanical properties such as resistance to shock, impact, acoustic performance and vibration”.

To prove this, a demonstrator was developed, the front end of a vehicle. It was produced using the methods developed, using composite materials (thermoplastic matrix carbon fiber) and metal.

The LAY2FORM – Efficient Material Hybridization by Unconventional Lay-up and Forming of Metals and Composites for Fabrication of Multifunctional Structures project was co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation program under grant agreement number 768710.
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